The rapid expansion of data privacy laws, combined with Big Tech’s deprecation of the third-party cookie, will make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible for businesses to capture and use certain types of personal data for marketing purposes. While the entire B2B marketing team will feel the impact, savvy content marketers can help their companies tackle this challenge by taking a privacy-first approach to content marketing.
In this blog post, we will address how to evolve your content marketing strategy to build trust, and why your customers will love you for it.
Your Customers Called: They Want Their Privacy Back
Why is privacy at the top of the news feeds these days? In short, consumers want to take back their control of how their personal data is used. To address this, a raft of public laws and private policies have arrived on the scene to prevent consumers’ data from getting into the wrong hands:
- In 2016 the EU adopted GDPR, regulating personal data that companies collect. In 2018, all organizations were required to be compliant.
- States like California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah and Virginia have passed their own consumer privacy laws to protect consumers from misuse of their data, with more states to follow.
- In 2020, Google announced (and later delayed) plans to kill its support of third-party cookies in its browser.
- In 2021 Apple updated its iOS to enable their mobile users to opt in to in-app ad tracking.
- In 2022, Congress is considering passage of the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA), which could become the U.S. version of the EU’s GDPR.
This rapid expansion of privacy laws and policies should not be lost on B2B businesses. While these laws were enacted to primarily protect the consumer, B2B businesses are also liable if they don’t comply. For example, B2B companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their global turnover from their preceding fiscal year if they violate the GDPR.
Data privacy is also what your customers demand: 81 percent of consumers say that having choices about how companies use their data is important, according to Adobe’s 2022 Trust Report.
Enter Privacy-First Content Marketing
While customer data may seem more difficult, if not impossible, to collect, these recent developments present an opportunity for B2B content marketers. This is their time to shine. Their role will become even more important in a privacy-first world, since a content marketer’s primary responsibility is to create content that drives engagement, loyalty, and trust. With this shift to privacy-first marketing, they will also have to think about ways to help their marketing team collect and use information from customers who want to share it with them.
This is where zero-party data comes in.
Zero-party data is simply information that individuals willingly share with a brand.
Forrester coined the term in 2020 and describes it as “data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand, which can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.”
This may sound a lot like first-party data, but there is a significant difference. First-party data is captured—with your customer’s consent—from your website, applications, CRM, or surveys. Zero-party data is collected from customers who intentionally share it in exchange for something they feel has high value to them: relevant and educational content. In our privacy-first world, zero-party and first-party data are the dynamic duo for building trust.
The Virtuous Cycle of Trust Building
Content marketers have a tremendous opportunity to influence the transformation of B2B marketing—by developing exceptionally high-value content that both facilitates the collection of zero-party data and uses those insights to provide a better content experience. That’s how the virtuous cycle begins: Creating content that is engaging and relevant will build a customer’s trust with the brand and increase their willingness to share their information; in turn, this new customer information facilitates the brand’s ability to provide deeper personalization and ultimately deliver more value to them over time.
This virtuous cycle—powered by content—will result in lasting brand loyalty that will have a profound impact to the business. In fact, 72 percent of consumers say relevant content delivered at the right time and place boosts their trust, according to the Adobe 2022 Trust Report. This cycle takes time to build momentum, however, so content marketers should be patient. Building trust through content is a long-term strategy—a marathon, not a sprint.
Ways to Collect Zero-Party Data
To build trust and create relevant content, B2B have many options for how to collect and use zero-party data. Here are just a few to help you get started:
- Publish a Preference Center page on your website to facilitate opt-in for communications, such as a newsletter subscription or product announcement.
- Use responses from interactive polls and surveys to determine relevant topics for newsletters, blogs, podcasts and eBooks.
- Use insights from an online assessment to provide a personalized response.
- Launch an email campaign to encourage your customers to provide information about their current role and responsibilities so you can create and recommend content that is relevant to them.
- Add open-ended questions on your gated content download form to personalize content recommendations.
- Develop micro-experiences on your website to gather information that will help enrich your persona profiles and journey maps.
It’s Time for a New Mindset
The combination of stricter privacy laws and the coming elimination of the third-party cookie will dramatically change how B2B companies reach, engage, and convert buyers. If you find yourself in a state of denial about the deluge of privacy laws on the horizon, take Taylor Swift’s advice and “shake it off.”
Now is the time to shift your mindset and demonstrate what great content marketing was intended for—creating content that is so valuable and trustworthy that your customers won’t hesitate to share their information in return to experience it.